Tennessee Lottery Sports Betting Executive to Leave Next Week

Posted on: March 23, 2021, 11:16h. 

Last updated on: March 24, 2021, 11:01h.

For the second time in less than a year, the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. is looking for a new sports betting director.

Tennessee lottery
The Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. announced that Vice President President of Sports Gaming Operations Danielle Boyd will leave the organization at the end of the month for a new opportunity. (Image: Sixflashphoto/Wikimedia Commons)

A spokesman for the lottery confirmed to Casino.org Tuesday that Danielle Boyd is stepping down as its vice president of sports gaming operations.

Danielle gave notice on the 16th for another opportunity, and her last day is the (March) 31st,” Communications Director Dave Smith said in an email to Casino.org. “We are grateful for Danielle’s time here, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

Last June, the lottery hired Boyd to replace Jennifer Roberts. Boyd previously worked as managing counsel for the West Virginia Lottery and head of government relations for William Hill. Roberts was TELC’s first sports betting leader, joining in December 2019. Sports betting became legal in the state in May of that year.

Roberts left to become general counsel for GameCo, a Las Vegas-based gaming company focusing on arcade-based gaming and esports wagering.

Boyd, in a message to Casino.org, declined to comment “out of respect” for the Tennessee Lottery.

Strong Start for Tennessee Sports Betting

Tennessee legalized sports betting nearly two years ago. However, it did not authorize sportsbooks to open shop in the state until last November.

At the time, the Volunteer State was an industry trailblazer in some regards. Most states tied sports betting to the casinos operating in the state, and Tennessee does not offer casino gaming. It followed the path of a few other states to put it under the auspices of its lottery. But it did so with a couple of unique twists.

For starters, the state did not cap the number of licenses available. In addition, it became the first state to go exclusively with mobile sports betting, eschewing the brick-and-mortar sites that make up just a small percentage of wagers in other states where online apps are approved.

Through the first three months, Tennessee’s sports betting operators have reported a handle of $523.6 million. They’ve reported adjusted gross income of $48.9 million. The state has received $9.8 million in tax revenue in that time.

Currently, the state has approved seven operators to offer sports betting apps. They are: Action 24/7, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, TwinSpires, William Hill, and Wynn Sports.

One Sports Betting Operator Suspended

One operator, Action 24/7, currently has its license suspended since Thursday after lottery officials became aware of numerous deposits made to the sportsbook using stolen credit cards.

Danny DiRienzo, who handles sports betting investigations for the lottery, told TELC officials that the sportsbook representatives did not report the suspicious activity for more than a week after they first detected it. DiRienzo said the lottery learned about the matter on March 17.

Initially, the sportsbook reported on its Twitter feed that its site was shut down for maintenance. However, on Friday, it posted a statement on Twitter criticizing the lottery’s action.

The sportsbook has come under fire from state officials because of connections to Advance Financial, a lending company. Advance, according to its website, offers short-term “flex” loans at annual interest rates of 279.5 percent. In January, lottery officials approved Advance Financial locations to serve as places where bettors could deposit money into their Action 24/7 account.

Tina Hodges’ LinkedIn page shows her as both the president of Tennessee Action and CEO of Advance Financial.

Last month, two Tennessee state senators filed a bill that would prohibit such practices. Senate Bill 1029 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate State and Local Government Committee next Tuesday.